The good thing about high-end projectors is you get exactly what you pay for. If you pay for high quality that is exactly what you will receive. Currently, there is an influx of true 4K projectors in the market which are quite expensive. To counter this, manufacturers are leaning towards making projectors with a simulated 4K via a technology known as pixel shifting. This offers customers an outstanding image quality at a fraction of the price of true 4K projectors.
The Epson Home Cinema 3800 is one such projector. It is a 4K PRO-UHD projector with HDR support. Despite being made for the home cinema, it is versatile enough to support some level of gaming. It is one of those projectors ushering in the era of lower prices for 4K projectors. Natively it is a 1080p projector but utilizes pixel shifting to generate a 4K display resolution. So if you’re looking for an entry-level 4K projector for your home theater, this is the projector for you. Let’s look into the features to see if this projector is worth considering.
- 4K PRO-UHD (1) Projection technology — a new type of 4K home theater experience, utilizing advanced technologies for resolution Enhancement, color and image processing
- True 3-chip projector design — Advanced 3LCD technology displays 100 percent of the RGB color signal for every frame without any “rainbow effect” or color brightness issues
- 4K resolution processing — pixel-shifting technology precisely controls three individual, high-definition LCD chips to parallel process millions of pixels
Features of Epson Home Cinema 3800
Stunning picture quality with simulated 4K resolution
This projector has a 4K PRO-UHD resolution. The 4K PRO-UHD uses pixels shifting to supplement the projector’s native 1080p resolution to yield a 4K resolution. A true 4K projector has 4K panels to yield this resolution. A simulated 4K doubles the number of pixels on the 1080p (full HD) panel to generate a 4K resolution.
The resulting image resembles one that has been generated by 8.3 million pixels of a native 4K resolution. You get to enjoy ultra-high-definition visuals. Simulated 4K delivers one of the best quality images in the market. For Epson projectors, the quality of the images is enhanced by the 12-element high-quality glass lens. The projector goes out of its way to deliver highly-detailed images which give an overall better viewing experience.
A true 3-chip LCD projection system
Contrary to its competitors, BenQ and Optoma, Epson uses LCD chips rather than DLP chips for their projectors. This 3LCD technology generates better color saturation by displaying 100% of the RGB color signal for every frame without the rainbow effect or color brightness issues. This works a lot better for movies which is the primary purpose of this projector.
Digital video processing
It has a 12-bit analog-to-digital video processing to provide visible and better quality videos for consumption. Epson Home Cinema 3800’s digital video processor generates smooth tonal transitions while eliminating compression artifacts, blocking, and banding. The final visual performance is a smooth and high-quality video.
Amazing visual performance with HDR and HLG support
A 4K projector is worth nothing if it cannot handle HDR. For the best quality images, HDR plays a crucial role in generating life-like images providing you with an immersive viewing experience. It supports both HDR10 for 4K UHD Blu-Ray and HLG for streaming. It is important to have HLG support in this era of streaming services such as Prime Video and Netflix.
With Epson Home Cinema 3800, the color performance depends on the color mode selected. It has 4 built-in color modes: Natural, Dynamic, Bright Cinema, and Cinema. You won’t be limited to these modes, you can customize and store up to 10 custom color modes. You could also adjust the names of the prebuilt modes.
The Dynamic mode is the brightest. It yields a typical green bias, as it is with all bright projectors, but this color for this mode is accurate enough to be used during the day. The other modes (Natural, Bright Cinema, and Cinema) yield very accurate colors that surpass the acceptable levels. Of course, the Cinema mode is most optimized to deliver the best colors but this typically comes at the expense of brightness. Contrary to the dynamic mode that has a green bias, these 3 modes have a blue bias.
The color volume is also quite high, measuring 90.2% of Rec 709 for the Natural mode. This value goes up to 113.7% for the Cinema mode. This projector also has full-color reproduction of up to 1.07 billion colors. Generally, the Home Cinema 3800 can deliver rich colors for an immersive viewing experience.
The throw ratio ranges between 1.32 and 2.15. This projector is neither a short-throw nor a long throw. You need around 8 feet to project a 60” image and around 13 feet to project a 100” image. You need an average size room to comfortably use this projector.
Epson Home Cinema 3800 is compact but not as lightweight as most modern projectors. This can be attributed to the fact that it offers so much more. It weighs 15.2lb (6.89 kg), you would need at least both hands to pick it up and move it around. It can be mounted on the ceiling or placed on a surface.
Whether you’re mounting the projector on the ceiling or placing it on a surface, chances are that it will be at an angle from the projection surface. This results in the image adopting a trapezoid shape. To counter this, the HC 880 has ±30% vertical and horizontal keystone correction. This feature allows you to manually adjust distortion at all sides of the image to generate a perfectly square image.
It also has ±60% horizontal and vertical lens shift and 1.62x zoom. These features let you align the image on the screen without having to move the projector. Lens shift works like the keystone correction except, rather than adjusting the sides of the image, the lens shift moves the whole image.
All of these features give you a lot of flexibility in installing this projector. You don’t have to worry about image distortions when you move it.
3000 ANSI lumens of brightness
For a home theater projector, the HC 3800 is quite bright. Its lamp emits 3000 ANSI lumens of light. This brightness means that it can be used even in the presence of ambient light. If you decide to watch your TV shows during the day, there will be a minimal washout, especially in the dark areas of the image. It has sufficient black levels contributed by the 100,000:1 contrast ratio.
Low input lag for gaming
Despite being marketed towards a home cinema, the HC 3800 offers a low input lag for gaming. It has a 28ms input lag at a 60Hz refresh rate and 4K resolution. There is a fast setting that can be used to propel this input lag down to 16.7ms.
The HDMI 2.0 setting, especially with Xbox one, requires you to choose between graphics and resolution (you simply cannot get the best of both simultaneously). So if you prefer graphics over resolution, you can set it to 240Hz but sacrifice 4K resolution for 1080p. But if you want the 4K gaming experience you will have to live with a 60Hz refresh rate. A high refresh rate makes sure what you’re seeing on the screen matches what you’re doing on your computer accurately. Simply speaking it ensures better performance for your games.
Additionally, it is compatible with popular gaming consoles. Whether you prefer PlayStation, Xbox, or Nintendo, it doesn’t matter. It is compatible with all of them. It has an HDMI 2.0 for 4K content and HDMI 1.4 for non-4K content. You just need an HDMI cable and you can connect your gaming console to it and enjoy the visuals. With this projector, you don’t have to worry about abandoning your current console for a new one.
Lamp life is not one of this projector’s best features, but it is dependent on the mode you’re using. In the ECO mode, it can last up to 5000 hours (that’s around 7 months). Most projectors last above 10,000 hours in this mode and some can even go up to 20,000 hours. However, in the Medium and High modes, the lamp life is quite standard, lasting 4000 and 3500 hours respectively.
Large image size and ample aspect ratio
Epson HC 3800 can project images up to 300 inches. It has a large aspect ratio of 16:9 that gives a lot of room for expansion along the image edges. So if you’re getting this projector for the sheer experience of a large screen, it will enable you to experience this. The recommended size that gets the best out of the resolution is about 100” to 180” as it is for other true 4K projectors.
It has two 10W built-in stereo speakers capable of supplying adequate sound for your movies, TV shows, or sports. When you have a large room, however, it might not be as effective. Fortunately, it has an audio output port where you can connect external speakers if the internal ones are not enough.
Support for 3D content
Although there is only a handful of 3D movies in the market, it is a very unbelievable experience to watch one. The HC 3800 enables you to have this experience with its 3D support. Contrary to other 3D projectors, it lacks discrete 3D modes and uses the same 4 modes as 2D instead. Of course, you will need 3D glasses as accessories for this mode. The HC 3800’s 3D mode only supports 3D glasses offered by Epson or VESA.
Price and warranty
It retails at $1700, which is a fair price considering the features it offers. It is one of those projectors that ushered in the era of cheaper simulated 4K projectors. At the moment, there are some true 4K projectors within this price range. The performance of this projector compared to its price is way above average, therefore, it is worth a purchase.
It has a 2-year limited warranty, with the lamp being limited to only 90 days. Epson also offers an Extra Care home service program and dedicated toll-free support for US and Canadian customers only. There is ample time for customer service if the projector malfunctions.
Now that we have looked at the features, let’s analyze the pros and cons before giving a final verdict on this product.
Pros of Epson Home Cinema 3800
A versatile projector
The main purpose of this projector is to supplement customers’ home theater viewing experience. It has a variety of color modes that deliver vibrant and saturated cinematic colors for this purpose. At the same time, it delivers low input lag that is suitable for competitive gaming.
10 slots for your custom modes
It has 10 memory positions for you to save customized color modes for SDR, HDR, 3D, or other viewing conditions.
Excellent installation flexibility
It has all the features to enable you flexibly install it. These include vertical and horizontal keystone correction and lens shift, compactness, and zoom.
Cons of Epson Home Cinema 3800
Duration to lock picture signal
When switching from one resolution to another, it takes a lot of time for this projector to lock to a stable picture signal. This can be frustrating to you especially if you’re in a hurry.
No frame interpolation in 4K
Frame interpolation is important in generating smooth transitions in pictures. For the HC 3800, this feature is not available for the 4K resolution or 1080p when the 4K enhancement is on.
Suppose these cons have changed your mind about getting this projector, are there any other options to consider.
The closest alternative to this projector is Epson Home Cinema 4010. These projectors have almost identical features except the HC 4010 is less bright (2400 ANSI lumens) but it has a higher contrast ratio (200,000:1). Surprisingly, the HC 4010 costs $2000, a $300 difference in price without a significant difference in features. If you were to choose between these two, we would recommend that you go for the HC 3800 because it is cheaper, while offering similar features.
Epson Home Cinema 3800 is a fantastic 4K projector at a budget price. It would be a wonderful acquisition for your home cinema while still allowing you to occasionally competitively game using it. Its closest competitor does not have much over it, despite being a lot more expensive than it. So if you’re looking for a 4K projector for your home cinema, the HC 3800 is a wonderful option to consider.